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What causes uterine fibroids?

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We don't know what causes uterine fibroids. Scientists have a number of theories, but none of these ideas explains fibroids completely.

Some factors researchers believed to be related to fibroid growth are:1,2

  • Estrogen
  • Progesterone
  • Growth hormones
  • Genetic changes
  • Misplaced cells present in the body before birth

Other factors that may affect fibroid growth are:

  • Quantity of micronutrients—nutrients such as iron that the body needs only small amounts of — in the blood.3 For instance, a deficiency of vitamin D may be associated with uterine fibroids.4
  • Major stresses5,6

It is likely that fibroids are caused by many factors interacting with one another. Once we know the cause or causes of fibroids, our efforts to find a cure or even prevent fibroids could move ahead more quickly.

  1. Lethaby, A., & Vollenhoven, B. (2007). Fibroids (uterine myomatosis, leiomyomas). Clinical Evidence 5. Retrieved April 11, 2012, from Web Site Policy [top]
  2. American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. (2009). Uterine fibroids. Retrieved April 11, 2012, from External Web Site Policy. (PDF - 366 KB) [top]
  3. Martin, C.L., Huber, L.R., Thompson, M.E., & Racine, E.F. (2011). Serum micronutrient concentrations and risk of uterine fibroids. Journal of Women's Health, 20, 915-922. Retrieved December 8, 2011, from External Web Site Policy [top]
  4. Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. (2012). Vitamin D shrinks fibroid tumors in rats. Retrieved April 2, 2012, from [top]
  5. Baird, D., & Wise, L. (2011). Childhood abuse and fibroids. Epidemiology, 22, 15-17. Retrieved December 8, 2011, from External Web Site Policy [top]
  6. Vines, A.I., Ta, M., & Esserman, D.A. (2010). The association between self-reported major life events and the presence of uterine fibroids. Women's Health Issues, 20, 294-298. Retrieved December 8, 2011, from External Web Site Policy [top]

Last Reviewed: 12/18/2013
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